Trump's isolationist policy gives Russia unique chance to revive in influence in Latin America

Argentina's relationship with Russia suddenly becomes 'strategic'

It seems that Russia has lost its influence in Argentina after the rise of pro-Western President Mauricio Macri to power. All of a sudden, Macri announced the continuation of strategic cooperation with Russia, and opened the doors of the country for such Russian state-run giants of the atomic and gas industries as Rosatom and Gazprom.

After leftist forces left the governments of Argentina and Brazil, the split in MERCOSUR on the issue of Venezuela, the death of Fidel Castro, Rafael Correa's departure from politics, it seemed that the loss of Russia's influence in Latin America was a matter of a short time. President Vladimir Putin did not said nothing about Brazil during the last BRICS summit.

However, President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, has recently paid a visit to Moscow and this event dispelled pessimism. After his victory in 2015, all of Argentina's agreements with Russia were suspended. Those agreements include such projects as the Atucha nuclear power plant, the sale of Su-24 interceptor aircraft, and the construction of a GLONASS station. It was rumoured that the Chinese quickly intercepted Russia's atomic interests in Argentina.

Nevertheless, as a results of the visit to Moscow on January 23-24, the President of Argentina unexpectedly stated that the relations between Russia and Argentina were "strategic."

"We are especially interested in developing ties in the fields of energy, agricultural industry, infrastructure, logistics, mechanical engineering, including in the railway sector, because Russia has an expensive experience in this," Argentine President Mauricio Macri said in an interview with TASS.

"There are Russian companies like Rosatom and Gazprom that want to participate in the energy sector of Argentina, and we are opening doors for them," Macri added.

A memorandum of understanding was signed in the exploration and production of uranium in Argentina, to make Argentina become a world producer of uranium.

Is Macri turning into a pro-Russian politician? Russian projects are attractive indeed. Rosatom provides a full complex of construction and maintenance for the nuclear power plant - from the extraction and raw materials supplies to repairs and equipment replacement. The GLONASS system is an excellent addition to GPS that will take Argentina to "Russian space."

Secondly, Russia transfers technology, while China attracts its suppliers and contractors. Thirdly, it is obvious that the US is leaving the region against the background of Trump's isolationist policy and decreasing economic assistance to the countries of the region. The US has been terminating long-term contracts with its neighbours across the continent and building protectionist barriers.

A recent Gallup poll showed that the approval of the actions of the US administration dropped in all countries of Latin America to an average of 24% in 2017 (in Argentina - to 13%).

Russia is open to supplies of traditional Latin American exports, including from Argentina, against the backdrop of the war of sanctions.

"We (Argentina) are striving to become a strategic supplier. We are ready to supply meat, fruit, beans to Russia. During the meeting with Vladimir Putin, we talked about the opportunities that the agreement on cooperation between MERCOSUR and the Eurasian Economic Union can give," Macri said in Moscow.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Mora, director of the Latin American Program at the International University of Florida (FIU), was quick to say that the Russians were planning to interfere in elections in Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica and Brazil.

As we can see, Russia does not need to promote its candidates anywhere. Argentine President Macri   has shown that a candidate of any geopolitical orientation will seek cooperation with Russia, because Russian projects create jobs, transfer advanced technologies, and Russia is always there to help in time of need. For example, Russia offered its help to Argentina to search for the missing submarine.

Leading researcher of the Center for Iberian Studies of the Institute of Latin America of the Russian Academy of Sciences, candidate of historical sciences Naila Yakovleva, told Pravda.Ru that the Russian government runs pragmatic and sensible policies, whereas Russian corporations offer profitable deals.

"Russia does not compete with Argentina on foreign markets, we have different goods and different exports. Latin America is no longer a priority for the United States these days, and Russian positions in the region can now be represented very favourably. Trump's protectionism opens additional opportunities for Russia, and this is a unique moment that we need to take advantage of," the expert added.

Lyuba Lulko (Stepushova)

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Author`s name Lyuba Lulko